adoption laws, adoptive parents, Birth Parents, prospective adoptive parents

What are adoption facilitators?


There are more and more adoption facilitators popping up throughout the adoption world leaving many families confused about what would be the best option for them.  Unlike adoption agencies, adoption facilitators are unlicensed and unregulated companies who charge money to match prospective adoptive families with women considering adoption.

Adoption facilitators are usually small organizations with one or two staff members who often have no counseling background. Most adoption facilitators advertise to locate pregnant women on behalf of their adoptive clients. Once a woman selects a family, the facilitator will refer both the prospective adoptive family and pregnant women and their families to a local professional (a law firm or licensed adoption agency) and remove themselves from the rest of the adoption process. They are middle men who charge families extra money to facilitate their adoption.

Why not to use an Adoption Facilitator

  • Adoption facilitators are not annually or periodically reviewed by an objective person, government or organization.
  • Adoption facilitators only match pregnant women and adoptive families. The adoptive family is on their own without the support of a counselor. They must find their own local agency to provide a home study and possible counseling for themselves, the pregnant woman and her family.
  • Once referred to a local adoption professional, adoptive families must pay more, and their facilitator fees are at risk if the adoption doesn’t work out.
  • Families often get frustrated with facilitators because they are not social workers and lack the empathy and skill to guide and educate them through the process and don’t help guide pregnant women through the process either.
  • Families are often matched with women who aren’t a good fit for their families or women who aren’t really certain about an adoption plan.  There is often no proof of pregnancy either.
  • Unlike many adoption agencies, adoption facilitators often work with women who need significant help with living expenses (well over $10,000) and other needs or requests. Higher expenses mean more finances are at risk if the adoption disrupts.
  • An adoption facilitator’s cost estimates are “best-case scenario” and rarely reflect what clients may actually end up paying and they may also experience several disruptions and lose thousands of dollars before an adoption succeeds.
  • Facilitators work with attorneys in various states who are expected to drive birth families to appointments, welfare offices, etc. at the hourly rate that an attorney usually charges.
  • Some adoption facilitator contracts expire.  Families then have to pay again or move on to an agency, attorney or renew with the facilitator.
  • Facilitators for adoption usually provide less than a fourth of the services of licensed agencies, and therefore prospective adoptive parents often end up spending more money.
  • Adoption facilitators do not have the skill set to properly counsel, support and explain the adoption process to pregnant women and their families, which leads to more failed adoptions.
  • Most facilitators work alone or as part of a two- or three-person adoption facilitator agency, which makes them overworked, burned out and not responsive to clients in a timely fashion.
  • Facilitators for adoption can easily go out of business with no repercussions.
  • States like California have even developed specific certification to help regulate these entities, but certification has done little to regulate these providers.
  • Adoption facilitators typically lack expertise in the complexities and differences in adoption law state to state. They sometimes give ill advice as they try to match couples with women seeking to create an adoption plan.
  • Two States (Delaware and Kansas) strictly prohibit any use of facilitators or intermediaries. Eight States prohibit their use by restricting the placement of children to licensed agencies only (Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and

Wisconsin). Nebraska limits the placement of children to either an agency or a member of the child’s birth family. Minnesota and Nevada restrict the placement to a parent, legal guardian, or agency. The District of Columbia and New York limit the placement to an agency, parent, legal guardian, or birth relative. Arizona and Ohio restrict the placement to an agency or an attorney. Oklahoma limits the placement to an agency, family member, or attorney.

  • Fifteen States and American Samoa regulate the activities of intermediaries by limiting the compensation that they are allowed to receive (Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana,  Maryland,  Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia).  It is illegal for these persons or agencies to receive any payment for the placement of the child; reimbursement for actual medical or legal services is the only payment that they are allowed to receive. Nine States allow the use of adoption facilitators but detail in statute the activities they are permitted to perform or the services they are required to offer (California, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Washington.)

These requirements may include:

  • Providing written information about the adoption process to all parties (California, Florida, Michigan, and Washington)
  • Providing to the adopting parent any available background information about the child’s birth parent (California, Michigan, and Pennsylvania)
  • Making sure that the adopting parents have completed home studies that have been approved (New Jersey and Pennsylvania)
  • Reporting to the court all fees and expenses paid (California, Florida, and Pennsylvania)
  • Providing to the adopting parent information about the background of the child, to the extent available (Florida, Pennsylvania)

In Florida, where adoption facilitators are frequently attorneys, the law requires facilitators to obtain all necessary consents, file petitions and affidavits, and serve notices of hearings. In North Carolina and Vermont, the law explicitly states that a birth parent or guardian must personally select a prospective adoptive parent; the role of a facilitator is limited to either assisting the birth parent in evaluating that choice or assisting a prospective adoptive parent in locating a child who is available for adoption.

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